JEFFERSON COUNTY, Colo. — Beginning Tuesday, all residents and visitors of Jefferson County will be required to wear a mask or cloth face covering when in public settings unless they're able to maintain 6 feet of social distancing, the Jefferson County Public Health (JCPH) announced.
The agency issued an Emergency Public Health Order which takes effect July 14 at 5 p.m. It does not require face coverings when in private residences, or in a personal vehicle when traveling alone or with members of your household.
There are also exceptions for health conditions, certain work conditions, first responder unforeseen emergencies, children under 5 years of age and for situations in which CDPHE has explicitly permitted the removal of a face covering.
Face coverings should not be worn by young children under age 3, anyone who has medical conditions that prevent them from wearing it or anyone who is unable to remove it without assistance, the health order says.
A hearing will be held during the scheduled Jefferson County Board of Health meeting on July 21 with a discussion on whether to amend or extend the order.
In Jefferson County, there has been a large increase in COVID-19 cases since mid-June. During the week of June 14, there were 76 new cases, which was the lowest number of cases per week since the beginning of March.
For comparison, JCPH said last week (week of July 5) they saw 230 new cases, which is a three-fold increase. Hospitalizations have also begun to rise again, both in Jefferson County and across the Denver Metro Area, according to the agency.
“As cases have started to increase sharply across the Denver Metro Area and in Jefferson County, we are looking at the tools we have to prevent the surges that are happening in other parts of our country, including bordering states, from happening here,” said Dr. Mark B. Johnson, Executive Director at JCPH. “While we have always strongly encouraged our residents to wear face coverings, we are joining others in the Denver Metro Area to take it a step further and make them mandatory.”
There is a growing body of scientific research that shows the use of cloth face coverings helps prevent the transmission of COVID-19, especially from people who are contagious but do not have symptoms, the health department said.
Additionally, face coverings are most likely to reduce the spread of COVID-19 in a community when they are widely used by people in public settings, according to the agency.
In recent days, Governor Polis and the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE) have called on local communities to take action to increase mask wearing among their residents, noting significant benefits to public health and economic activity.
“We applaud JCPH for taking steps to increase mask-wearing in Jefferson County,” said Jill Hunsaker Ryan, MPH, Executive Director at CDPHE. “Evidence shows that when more people wear a mask, transmission of COVID-19 can be reduced, which means fewer people become ill with the virus and we can continue to rebuild our economy.”
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